My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Author: Kelly Coon
Format: eBook (NetGalley)
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.
In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.
When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.
But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.
Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.
Thank you to Random House Children’s and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
Gravemaidens is about a young woman named Kammani who is following in her father’s footsteps to become the best healer in Alu. But her family’s reputation was tarnished years ago when her father’s healing talent couldn’t save someone very important. So they went from a renowned family in society to being outcasts and her youngest brother is sent to live at the palace as punishment. Kammani’s life and family has fallen apart.
A very fascinating ritual takes place in this book. The Lugal, their ruler, is on the verge of death but when he dies tradition follows that three of the most beautiful girls will accompany the Lugal into the tomb and die with him. These gravemaidens will travel with him to the netherworld. Kammani’s sister is chosen as a sacred maiden. Where everyone saw this role as a true honor, Kammani only sees death and vows to save her sister.
I love the strong female characters and female relationships in this book. I especially loved Iltani, who is Kammani’s best friend. She’s funny and spunky, she really made the scenes come alive. Kammani is a strong young woman as well but sometimes I thought she was rash with her actions and thoughts concerning her sister and the Nin (princess). Her reasoning for who was trying to cause harm to her and the Lugal came to her so quick, even I questioned her accusations. Nanaea, who is Kammani’s younger sister comes off as materialistic but there is more to her than what everyone sees.
Kammani does have a romantic interest in Dagan. Their relationship is a slow burn, friends to lovers clean romance. Kammani is wary of becoming a wife and mother and nothing else, so she is conflicted about marrying Dagan. Dagan is patient, loyal and a good friend to Kammani. He really is just a good guy who loves her.
Gravemaidens is a story about the bonds of family, friendship, finding love and navigating the expectations of being a young woman. Overall this is a very solid debut and an engaging young adult fantasy novel.